E-commerce is the fastest growing retail sector in North America. The fact that shoppers can buy almost anything they desire at the click of a button has had a huge impact on the wider retail market, with many bricks and mortar stores struggling to battle the booming trend of online shopping. However, there continues to be a need for in-store shopping, most of all on big ticket items that customers feel nervous purchasing over the Internet, such as cars, white goods, furniture, etc. Indeed, the introduction and rise of e-commerce hasn’t wholly replaced traditional retail channels, but it has changed them forever…
The rise of ‘showrooming’
Even before online shopping, or e-commerce, took the stronghold it has today, many physical retail spaces were beginning to adopt a more pared-back aesthetic. That is, reducing the amount of stock on show, and using the store to portray an aspirational lifestyle. This was especially evident in the fashion and homeware market, but was also beginning to happen in beauty and technology too. This trend was a response to the increasing consumer behavior of ‘showrooming’ — shoppers using the in-store experience to confirm their interest to purchase, and then completing the transaction online. Consider your local Apple store: how different would that shopping experience feel if there were countless iPads, iPhones and laptops stacked up in the shelves? The item certainly wouldn’t feel as premium, aspirational or desirable. It may even appear cheap and conventional — two brand qualities not readily associated with Apple. By using a showroom approach, Apple encourages their customers to come in and engage with the product — handle it, use it, test its ergonomics — and then either purchase in-store or, more likely, purchase at home via the Internet.
A brand’s digital presence is more important than ever
With fewer shoppers physically engaging with brands via their packaging — which was once the in-store salesman — how a brand portrays itself online is paramount. Indeed, every digital moment of engagement is an opportunity to sell. Be it an Instagram post, a Tweet, a banner ad or an email; each of these touchpoints must be designed to be cohesive and seamless with the brand’s wider identity and personality. Failure to present a seamless personality through all brand touchpoints can result in lack of sales. Website and E-commerce developers know this, and so will work hard to ensure user experience, graphic design and selling tools are optimal online. For best in class examples, visit eventige.com.
Consumers are bargain hunting more than before
Because the Internet offers shoppers a quick and simple way to compare product prices — scanning different websites and using online coupon codes for discounts — the common consumer is more price sensitive and bargain-savvy than in recent years. Such behavior has a knock on effect for physical retail too, as customers expect the price they see online to be replicated in store, regardless of the overhead expenses involved in having a brick and mortar presence.
So, what next for e-commerce?
Looking further into 2018, it’s likely that developments in Artificial Intelligence and other technology will shape the future of e-commerce; how though, waits to be seen.